ATHENS — As the legendary Paul Harvey used to say, “and now for the rest of the story.” …
In this case I’m saying that about the legend that is — or will be — Trenton Thompson. OK, so we’ll give him a break. We don’t know if Thompson will end up being a great player — much less a legend — at Georgia or not. But there are strong indications that the freshman defensive tackle from Albany, who was the subject of this week’s “Next Generation” series, has a chance to be a major contributor for the Bulldogs in his first season on campus.
And that’s saying something.
Of course, it’s highly unusual for any true freshman to start on the defensive line in the SEC. And if they do, it’s usually out of desperation and doesn’t necessarily translate into great productivity.
There have been great freshman defensive linemen in the SEC in recent years. Robert Nkemdiche started 10 games as a freshman for Ole Miss in 2013. But he really wasn’t that much of a force. He finished with 34 tackles, 2 sacks and 8 tackles for loss.
Derek Barnett got 10 starts for Tennessee as a freshman last season as well. Playing end, he put up some pretty good numbers with 20.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.
But interior defensive line is a different animal. And even some of the most physically mature freshmen have struggled to excel that first year. Neither Richard Seymour nor Marcus Stroud started their first seasons at Georgia, and they were both 6-6, 300 pounds.
But if anybody could get it done, it looks like Trent Thompson could. Though he’s listed in the media guide at 6-4, 311 pounds, Thompson told me he’s closer to 6-3 and weighed 308 pounds shortly before reporting to UGA this summer.
As one can see from his highlight video, Thompson is unusually quick for a man that size, ran down backs regularly from the back side and reportedly is freakishly strong in both the upper and lower body and the hands.
It’s not an automatic that Thompson will be able to beat out the players ahead of him in the interior. Chris Mayes (6-4, 317, Sr.) and John Atkins (6-4, 299, RSo.) are currently slotted at the top of the depth chart at noseguard. But coach Mark Richt and others have said Thompson could be given a shot to play 3- or 5-technique tackle as well.
All that will get worked out during Georgia’s preseason camp. In the meantime, here’s some more tidbits on Thompson that did not make it into main feature or sidebars:
- Thompson said he’s not concerned about what position he might play on Georgia’s D-line. “It doesn’t matter to me, as long as I earn a spot eventually,” he said. “I like to play on the strong side, but it really doesn’t matter to me. I just want to get on the field my first year.”
- Thompson trained for several weeks with Georgia wide receiver Kenny Towns. The two have been friends since the Towns was a senior at Westover and Thompson was a mere freshman. However, their mothers have been friends since they both attended Dougherty High n Albany. Thompson said he and Towns did some weightlifting together but mostly the running and flexibility drills they’ll utilize at Georgia to get in shape.
- Thompson’s nickname at Westover High and around Albany is “Jolly,” or “Jolly Nation.” It was given to him by his grandmother because of his upbeat demeanor and ever-present smile and is painted on his customized Timberlands. Funny thing, Thompson makes a point not to smile pictures.
- Thompson would like to major in sports management or marketing. But he said he’d ultimately like to get in the trucking business. He has actually hatched a detailed plan that he has discussed at length with his buddy Julian Caldwell and Caldwell’s family. “There’s always going to be money in trucking,” he says.
- He also talks about opening a shoe store for big men. That’s mainly because of the extra-wide 15s his feet require. And, yes, he is aware of Friedman’s.
- Thompson will be wearing the No. 78 at UGA. He is rooming with Terry Godwin, Chauncey Rivers and Roquan Smith.
- Thompson is the consummate mama’s boy. He and mother Bridgette Flewellen are extremely close and talk on the phone every day. “I’m gonna miss him; I ain’t going to tell a story,” she says. “He’s my first baby to go off to college. I’m excited, but I’m also scared because I’m not going to be around him. I’m so used to him being around here and being able to ask him how he’s doing and what he has to do. I’m going to miss that. But we’re going to talk every day. I’ll be checking in, saying hi, find out how practice went, how it feels to be off his own.”
- Thompson’s size comes naturally. He was born at 10 pounds, 3 ounces. Size runs on both sides of the family. “We’re all big-boned,” his mother quips.
UGA’S NEXT GENERATION
- Football the easy part for Thompson
- Family work ethic defines Thompson
- Recruiting frenzy was intense for No. 1 DT
- Photos: Meet Trent Thompson
- Madden’s trek to Georgia was ‘meant to be’
- It’s all about family for Maddens
- Strength training a big part of Madden’s story
- Blog: Confidence, dedication will earn Madden PT
- Photos: Meet Sam Madden
- LB Roquan Smith plans to earn his keep at UGA
- City of Montezuma stands behind Roquan
- Photo Gallery: Meet Roquan Smith
- Video: Getting to know Roquan Smith